Buddy Ruski is on the road!
Greetings from the Excelsior State. I’m in New York City this week for some personal exploits. Specifically, the final North American concert for Japanese psych-rock band Kikagaku Moyo. The group is disbanding (no pun) at the end of the year. I feel fortunate to have seen them twice at Cat’s Cradle over the last few years. The members are moving on to other projects which is all the more reason to push up my much-anticipated trip to Japan.
Brooklyn in the South
The first time I visited New York City was in 2015. Gabe and I had just finished fundraising for the RUNAWAY flagship store in downtown Durham and came to NYC looking for inspiration. It wasn’t until the summer of 2018 that I came back to NYC while in charge of a group of international high school students, as if navigating the city wasn’t scary enough. Since that trip, I’ve made a regular pilgrimage to the Big Apple to visit friends and appreciate the pinnacle of urban living.
Saying “Durham is not New York City” will be the most obvious sentence I ever write. But enough about our small slice of the Piedmont captured the imagination of rapper Big Daddy Kane, who proclaimed he’d found “Brooklyn in the South” as a featured guest on the song “Welcome To Durham” by Little Brother. Ever since I first heard the record, I’ve been intrigued by what similarities resonated with the Brooklyn emcee. Exploring the streets over the course of a week once a year will never compete with the experience of living here, but nonetheless, I find the exercise worthwhile even if it only offers a glimpse into what life is like in an urban environment.
The prospect of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill being “boroughs” of the same metropolis was a more plausible way to identify the area when light rail seemed possible. Even against our pleas, people still refer to both cities as “Raleigh-Durham” and Durham’s area median income (AMI) is linked to Chapel Hill’s in many cases.
Durham is not unlike Brooklyn in that transplants continue to make up a growing sector of the population. In Durham, a lot of people are migrating from bigger cities just like New York and still want to retain some of the best urban amenities like density, walkability, and strong public transit. While it might behoove us to take queues from our urban forefathers, we have an opportunity to build even better and more creatively given how relatively blank our canvas remains for the time being.
By The Horns Preview
Sadly, my trip ran up against Monday’s Durham City Council meeting. Although I wasn’t able to make it, our council watchdogs still represented in my absence(?)
We even had a couple new folks in the building! I continue to be encouraged by the number of people who have reached out and expressed interest in joining for a meeting, or just want to learn more about city government. We have the power. Let’s seize it!
A regular edition of By The Horns will hit inboxes next Wednesday. In the short term, I highly recommend following tomorrow’s work session for a few reasons:
- John Killeen, executive director of Dataworks NC, is presenting on key housing trends in Durham during the 3pm hour of the work session. Here is a link to the slide deck. Much of the conversation in Durham is driven by emotional reactions to things like gentrification but it’s equally important to have data that speaks to these issues so we can make informed decisions about how to effectively and equitably grow our city.
- City council will host a review of the Wheels Fun Park redesign. Durham bought the park from its original owner at the end of 2020 with the intent to revitalize the park and surrounding parcels in service of nearby residents. I spent countless hours there as a kid at the jungle gym and arcade. It’s a welcomed sight to see the original owner seek out the city to take over stewardship of the park. It’s future could have huge implications for the neighborhood.
- The city will consider a different kind of fun park when they review a presentation for the proposed “social district” in downtown Durham. I covered this in a recent blog post about downtown’s car problem. I’m curious to see what ripple effects this proposal has with regards to pedestrian safety and a change in downtown infrastructure. Maybe we’ll get more of these?
Tipping The Scales
One of my favorite parts of owning a retail business downtown was hosting events. They were grueling! But the community that formed around those parties felt true to the Durham I knew and loved. When I started Buddy Ruski, I hoped to recreate some of that magic with my own events. Last July, I hosted a live panel Q&A about the creative economy in Durham.
On October 22, Buddy Ruski is back in the events game with my friends at Rubies On Five Points (one of my new favorite venues) and Mamis & The Papis. We are co-hosting a dance party called Tipping The Scales in support of Durham Neighbors, a local non-profit that provides monthly basic income to dozens of Durham’s families in need. 100% of the cover charge for this event will be donated to the Durham Neighbors Project.
If you’re in town, come dance the night away for a good cause. Even if you can’t make the party, we hope you’ll consider becoming a monthly sustainer of Durham Neighbors to provide aid to your friends and neighbors who need it most.
Big shout out to Shawn and Rob at Rubies for hosting, and Victoria and Lauren for providing the beats, grooves and good vibes. See y’all on the 22nd!
The E-bike craze may have slowed since the start of the pandemic, but it’s not going away. Programs like this one in San Diego could help jumpstart a transit revolution in cities that are willing to invest in the infrastructure. The author, Emily Nonko, does a lot of reporting based in NYC that I admire and resonates with things happening in Durham.
Congratulations to my friends at Blue Cup Productions for their big win in the Visit NC “Firsts That Last” documentary film competition! The short film chronicles the story of Mipso band member Jacob Sharp and the friendly wager that earned him his first mandolin.
Holland and Taylor do a range of interesting projects, from basketball, to hip-hop, and more. For those who were around in 2017, you might remember HYPE: a mini-series directed by Holland inspired by the culture and changes happening in Durham.